Wales: Uruguay aim to shock the world again in their final Pool D match

Uruguay have never won two games at one Rugby World Cup tournament
Uruguay have never won two games at one Rugby World Cup tournament
Rugby World Cup: Wales v Uruguay
Venue: Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, Kumamoto City Date: Sunday, 13 October Kick-off: 09:15 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on every Wales game across BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Uruguay will aim to shock the world again when they play their final Pool D match against Wales.

That is according to their strength and conditioning coach Craig White, who was part of Warren Gatland's first backroom staff when he was appointed Wales head coach at the end of 2007.

White has been part of the Uruguay management team that helped Los Teros stun Fiji 30-27 in their opening match.

Now Uruguay hope to back that up in the final match of their campaign.

White works for World Rugby and has been assigned to Uruguay as their high-performance coach specialising in physical and mental development.

He still has strong ties within the Welsh camp. This week he met up with Wales' current fitness guru Paul Stridgeon and defence coach Shaun Edwards, who he worked with at Wasps, Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

Three lads from the same school in Wigan rugby league country at a rugby union World Cup.

"I had a coffee with Paul and Shaun this week and it was nice to connect with them again," said White.

"It is quite a feat that three lads from Wigan are here in Japan and we all went to the same school.

"St John Fisher, a famous rugby league school and three guys from there are doing it in the Rugby World Cup. That's magic."

White was with Edwards and Gatland at Wasps in the glory years and was also part of two Lions tours in 2005 and 2009.

Craig White (left) with Wales coach Warren Gatland and Mark Bennett at a training camp in Wexford.
Craig White (left) with Wales coach Warren Gatland and Mark Bennett at a training camp in 2008.

White linked up with Wales in 2008 for the first three years of Gatland's reign before leaving to become a World Rugby consultant, among other things.

Adam Beard took over his role before Stridgeon was appointed.

"A lot of the Wales players are different now but I can never forget the staff because I know them well," said White.

"I have worked with a lot of them at Wasps and Wales and their energy and professionalism shows why they have been at the cutting edge.

"It's an honest environment that has integrity. The staff have had a real influence on the development of that team over the last five or six years."

So White is well placed to give an insight into Gatland.

"Warren is very professional," said White. "He does not say an awful lot but when he says things he says it at the right time.

"He gets people around him that he trusts immensely and they trust him.

"The whole environment is built around that. When you have that within a camp and players feel safe in the environment it breeds hard work, professionalism and a strong competition for places within the squad.

"That is one of the reasons Wales have become a real outfit in the world."

World view

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Since leaving Wales, White's journey has taken an alternative route being assigned stints with Georgia and Uruguay in his role as a World Rugby consultant looking to help develop Tier Two nations.

"When I left Wales I sought a different path in rugby and I don't necessarily want to work full-time in the sport," said White.

"This fits the way I want to live my life. I helped Uruguay before the last World Cup but did not go to the tournament with them.

"When they qualified for this World Cup about 16 months ago I went over there and reunited with them.

"Then I agreed I would work with them for 150 days over the next 12 months.

"It has been great because I needed that amount of time to make an impact.

"When I got there, I found more organisation than last time but also saw so much more that could be done.

"I brought my professional eye and attention to detail. Because I already knew them I was able to challenge them - the key word was 'challenge'.

"They trusted me and sometimes it was a balance between challenging them and pulling back a little bit because I can be relentless.

"It's all been so worthwhile."

Taxi for Uruguay

Uruguay played Wales in the 2015 World Cup and lost 54-9
Uruguay played Wales in the 2015 World Cup and lost 54-9

White admits rugby has its challenges in the football-mad country and revealed that prop Diego Arbelo is a taxi driver in the capital Montevideo.

"Football is so big, you don't hear about rugby so much in the newspapers or if you talk to somebody on the street," said White.

"Some of these players you will see this weekend, one of them is an Uber driver in Montevideo and he will be propping against the number two team in the world.

"It is an incredible story, real Roy of the Rovers stuff."

Uruguay's profile has been raised by that shock win over Fiji, a remarkable turnaround after Los Teros had lost 68-7 to the same opposition in November.

"It has given Uruguay self belief which has been a key factor for this team over the last few months," said White.

"Now they know they can compete at the highest level, although maybe not every week.

"They believe in themselves. Our mantra for the last four months has been to shock the world.

"We did not say we were going to beat Fiji or get close to Georgia but we wanted to shock the world, however that looked.

"We do believe we are going to shock the world again against Wales.

"We don't know what that is going to look like but Uruguay want to put in a performance that will give them credit again."

Professional v amateur

Craig White
Craig White was part of the Wales set-up when Warren Gatland took over as coach in 2007

White admits Uruguay need help in developing the game but the future is bright with a number of initiatives being proposed.

"It's a minority sport but within that you have some passionate people and great leaders driving the game," said White.

"Uruguay have the potential to compete with the help of a new professional league in South America and maybe some more competitive games provided by World Rugby in the next cycle.

"Within the club scene it's full of passion and they are evolving all the time.

"They now have some players in the Major League Rugby (MLR) in North America, which is developing each year.

"After these World Cup performances they might get some players with contracts overseas.

"What is also happening is there is going to be a new professional league in South America with two franchise teams in Uruguay.

"In moving towards full-time professionalism, hopefully these two franchises will give them a platform for the future."

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